Driving laws

The fiasco over reforming the drivers’ licence situation in this country has generated a substantial response in the blogosphere. Damien has even set up a Facebook group entitled Dear L drivers, shut the fuck up and take the damned test (unfortunately it isn’t that easy, given the ridiculous waiting times).

The system has need to be fixed for about 30 years, especially the anomaly that allows people who fail the test to drive home afterward. Previously, if you had a second provisional licence you could drive without the company of a fully-licenced driver. That loophole will also be closed — though with only a few days’ notice (and the gardaí will only give cautions for the first couple of months, instead of pursuing prosecutions). It will be bye-bye provisionals and hello learners’ permits. But the approach has been shambolic.

Twenty has a go at Transport Minister Noel Dempsey:

But then we shouldn’t be surprised about anything that the hapless Minister for Transport is part of. Remember he was the Minister for Communications who presided over a communications system that’s one step above tin cans and string and tried to tell everyone how great it was….

The L driver thing is fucking ridiculous though. How can you tell people they have just 4 days to make alternative arrangements, especially when the waiting times for people to do their test are so long [43 weeks in some centres].

And Dan Sullivan points out:

there is a tranche of people (something like over 200,000) from the mid 80s who got full licenses because they had been on the waiting list for a test for so long that they were on a third provisional, so the solution was to give them all full licenses not as a temporary measure but for good. They’ve never passed a test but all have full licenses; that is almost half the number of people on provisional but we don’t hear any calls for them to be made pass the test.

Reforming the test system has been another shambles, but if I vent on that for real I’ll probably run afoul of somebody’s solicitors.

Public transport can not accommodate these thousands of no-longer-drivers. It’s poor as it is, but somehow the government expects all learner drivers to make new arrangements at the drop of a hat. The new laws will exist for a very good reason, but no real thought was put into this.

WorldbyStorm is right to say:

The most obvious strategy would be to line up all the ducks in a row. And to phase in the changes in stages, say across 18 months. Long enough to give fair warning, short enough to audit progress. A greater spend on public transport linked very openly to these changes (and something that would be applauded by the coalition partners in the Green Party). Roll out the new buses and rolling stock. Rip up the old Provisional Licenses before the cameras and wave the new Permits cheerily. Ensure all get to testing within – say – three months at most. Noel’s your uncle, and away we go.

But why think things through when you can make a dictat with the swish of a pen? Dempsey seems to have escaped retribution over the Shannon debacle (at least until the next election) and I have a feeling he’ll get out of this one too.

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